Wealth Column: 5 adviser warning signs

Financial advisers Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, Wealth Enhancement Group, outline ways to know if a financial adviser is the right fit.

Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of “Your Money” on KLKS 100.1 FM on Sunday mornings.
Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of “Your Money” on KLKS 100.1 FM on Sunday mornings.

If you are a regular reader of this column, chances are you are at least considering getting a financial adviser or have one already. We’ve talked through some of the things you should look for, but how do you know when an adviser won’t be a fit?

The wrong adviser can be nearly as harmful as not having one at all. Here are five signs an advisor might not be for you.

They won’t return your calls

Everyone gets busy, takes vacation, and spends time with family. Advisers are no different, and trust us, you don’t want an adviser who is overworked.

But your adviser should make an effort to address your questions outside of a one or two-year review. If you are feeling concerned about market volatility, or wondering how policy changes might impact your retirement, a good adviser should be responsive and provide answers, even if that answer is to “stay the course.”

They aren’t independent

It goes without saying that you want an adviser who represents you, first and foremost. Unfortunately, many advisers are incentivized to steer their clients to proprietary products.


Not all financial professionals have a fiduciary obligation to do what is in your best interests. Rather, they fulfill a suitability obligation, which simply means they must have a reasonable basis to believe their decisions benefit you and that their transaction fees cannot be exorbitant.

They lack broad expertise

Imagine asking your adviser a question about taxes and being met with a shrug. You wouldn’t have a lot of confidence in their ability to guide you into a low-tax retirement. A good adviser may not have a ready answer to every question, but they should have those answers at their fingertips, and have access to professionals with a broad array of knowledge who can help approach your financial problems.

They don’t keep up on policy

In this environment, it is simply unacceptable not to be up to speed on proposed policy changes. Many of the changes currently on the table would be retroactive to the beginning of the year or are based on 2020 tax filings. These have real-time impacts on your finances.

Your adviser should make it a priority to educate themselves on how state and federal policy is changing, and how it impacts your specific situation. Your retirement is not a set it and forget it exercise and being adaptable is vital to being successful.

You don’t see eye to eye

This one is a bit subjective, and that’s OK. Your adviser is going to know some of the most intimate and personal details of your life, and will be working with you for years, if not decades.

We want to work with people who want to work with us. If you don’t feel comfortable with an adviser for any reason, tangible or intangible, it is time to look elsewhere.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb are financial advisers at Wealth Enhancement Group and co-hosts of “Your Money” on News Radio 830 WCCO on Sunday mornings. Email Bruce and Peg at Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services, LLC, a registered investment adviser. Wealth Enhancement Group and Wealth Enhancement Advisory Services are separate entities from LPL.
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